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Next up: Circles and lope departures

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - May 1st, 2014 - More with Les

66th in a series
After working on hip control and developing cues in the last two issues, Les moves us into circles and departures.

Some folks find the circles in a reining program to be the boring part, but you’ve got to face the fact that if you’re going to show, you’ll spend most of your time in the pattern circling, so why not make them look good? Especially when many patterns call for circles before the other maneuvers. You only get one first impression, and if the judges don’t like how your horse handles in the circles, they’re going to know right where to look for faults in the rest of your maneuvers.

Same goes for departures. If your first one is perfect, the judges are going to be paying attention! Incorporating shoulder control into your lope is also going to help you keep those circles round and help you reinforce the shoulders out position that you will use so much in the dry work and on cattle, if that’s where you want to go with your training.

Speed control is also critical in every type of riding. In reining, the new standard is a transition that’s so crisp the horse will spray a little dirt when he comes down, in one stride, without breaking the cadence of his lope. You’ll also start to develop the tools that you’ll eventually use in your rundowns and in rating a cow. So as always, the more time you spend here, the easier time you’ll have later on.

Circles & Lope Departures

– To learn to lope consistent circles in terms of roundness and speed
– To begin to work on speed transitions from slow to fast and back again
– To start to incorporate some of the body control exercises we’ve worked on in other levels into your lope
– To start to develop a clean, controlled lope departure

Things to Concentrate on
– Being aware of and in control of your horse’s body position in everything you do
– What your body needs to be doing to make things easier and clearer for the horse
– Not asking for perfection all at once. Things like the shoulder in and out exercises can be physically challenging for a horse at first, and he can get easily frustrated if you want too much too fast.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More with Les is a regular California Horsetrader column. Les Vogt has won more than 15 World Championships, including two wins at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Although Les still rides and occasionally shows, his focus is giving clinics around the world and developing products for the performance horseman. To learn more about Les and to see his clinic schedule, visit: www.lesvogt.com

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